Did the Mona Lisa have syphilis? | Art and design | The Guardian

The Guardian quotes the Old Operating Theatre Museum as its source for Snail - water which the Mona-Lisa is recorded as purchasing.  And as the Snail Water at the Museum was used for syphillis then makes the case that she had syphillis.

I think this is very much a distant maybe. Because firstly does a woman buying a medicine always buy it for herself? Secondly, snail water was not just used for syphilis, it was used for a variety of ailments in that region of the body.

This is part of what the Guardian says.

Did the Mona Lisa have syphilis? | Art and design | The Guardian: Perhaps it was the disgusting, punitive nature of this concoction that made it seem a pungent cure. Snail water was still being used in the 18th century; books from the time are very specific about its medicinal value. The Pharmacopœia pauperum (1718) gives this recipe:

Take Garden-Snails cleansed and bruised 6 Gallons, Earth-Worms washed and bruised 3 Gallons, of common Wormwood, Ground-Ivy, and Carduus, each one Pound and half ...

More herbs are added to give the vile brew, credited to Dr Richard Mead, a physician at St Thomas’s hospital in London, a better flavour. Other 18th-century recipes concur in the use of snail water for treating such ailments,as you can see for yourself at the excellent Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, where examples of the recipe and its use for venereal disease are on display.


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